Wholesale Applications Community – MNOs Can Change the Game With Web-based Apps

Today at the Mobile World Congress, some of the world’s largest MNOs got clever about mobile applications.

The Wholesale Applications Community initiative, backed by 24 MNOs from across the globe have unified themselves behind the idea of a single platform where mobile application developers can come and access a broad range of mobile subscribers, theoretically the largest addressable market for mobile applications on the planet.While this initiative is a long ways from becoming a reality, if the MNOs get it right, by 2011 we might see mobile application developers flock to the platform.

The announcement focused on standardized APIs across the participating MNOs, leveraging OMTP BONDI requirements.What wasn’t as apparent but perhaps the most important element of the announcement is the fact that these mobile applications will be web-based. That means mobile application developers can develop their applications one time, in HTML standards such as JavaScript HTML 5 and avoid specific and therefore costly development for Mobile OS, such as iPhone, Android, Symbian, RIM and more.Since July of 2009 ABI Research has been promoting the idea that a migration away from native applications to web-based applications can solve a great deal of fragmentation issues for mobile application developers and potentially open the floodgates on mobile apps for a very broad range of consumers.

But the group will have to get it right.Browsers in most phones will have to significantly improve. MNOs are notorious for talking about standards but then adding minor alterations by network which can defeat the intent of the standards.It will most likely take some time for the group to agree to standards they all can live with for PIM, LBS and particularly billing. It will also be difficult for MNOs to not get greedy.The announcement mentioned revenue sharing, alluding to a 70/30 split between app developers and MNOs.Competing app stores see mobile apps as a means to an end, and not the other way around, and this group will need to do the same.